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“Ok,” we continued, “how do we make the required reservation?”
“You can’t, you’re too late. We don’t accept reservations at this park, or any Florida State Park, after 1pm,” was the answer.
W,

You seem to be moving about the country in your PM quite freely, have you remedied your previous crisis, the radiator fans etc..?
 

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W,

You seem to be moving about the country in your PM quite freely, have you remedied your previous crisis, the radiator fans etc..?
Yes, and we'll be posting - - on the original thread - - a (hopefully) closing summary, soon.
 
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We pulled up to the entrance kiosk at Florida’s Lake Manatee State Park at 5:30pm, Sunday. The park attendant inquired if we had a reservation.

“No,” was our reply.
“Sorry, then you can’t camp here,” came her surprising response.
“You mean this park is full?” was all we could muster in our disappointment.
“No,” she continued, “we have lots of sites available, but you need a reservation.”

Here we digress to inquire: Are we really reserving a camp site when we arrive, pay for, and immediately occupy an otherwise unreserved campground site? To us, a ‘reservation’ implies securing something for some future occupation. But until this unlikely encounter, no one, anywhere, had ever argued the meaning of “reservation” - - nor suggested that “Reservation Only” actually required doing something in advance if unreserved sites were available. All, everywhere, have gladly accepted our money and given us leave to occupy the otherwise unreserved site. It’s seems Florida both agrees with our definition of reservation (as an in advance activity) and uncompromisingly intends on enforcing such definition.

“Ok,” we continued, “how do we make the required reservation?”
“You can’t, you’re too late. We don’t accept reservations at this park, or any Florida State Park, after 1pm,” was the answer.

After a few ‘you’re kidding, of course’ type comments we asked for this confirmation:

“Let’s be sure we understand, you can have a nearly empty campground . . . and you will not accept any drive-up campers if they arrive after 1pm? You will let those dozens of unreserved campsites remain empty and unused, indeed, unusable?”

Her answer was “Yes”.

Florida has taken “Reservations Only” to a new level of absurdity. What’s really amazing about this is that . . . in all our past ‘discussions’ with forum members and others concerning the Reservation System”, often the conversation devolves into a discussion of the abuses of the Reservation System and that these abuses, as noted above, guaranty that there will always be unused sites at such campgrounds. Even the most ardent advocates of the Reservation System acknowledge this to be wasteful . . . but consider it a ‘waste’ that must be accepted because we can never now whether that empty site is a ‘no show’ or ‘late arrival’.

But in Florida they’re creating even larger wastes - - and with what justification? An arbitrary administrative rule? How is it that the remainder of the country has found a means to parcel their unreserved sites to drive-in campers?
I asked my contact at a Florida State Park and asked about the FSP web site that states:

"All campsites or cabins not reserved or occupied may be rented to walk in visitors on a first come, first served basis."

I mentioned your experience.

She discussed it among fellow employees and they felt that because the web site says "may be rented" that it's at the discretion of the park or attendant to decide.

So, I'm not sure why you were denied a spot.
 

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FWIW, BC Parks' reservation policy states:
"Reserved sites are held until 11 AM the day after the scheduled arrival date. If you do not notify the park operator directly of a late arrival, you will be considered a no-show and your reservation will be cancelled. All reservation charges and camping fees will be forfeited, and the park operator will have the right to give the site away to another visitor."

BC Parks only take reservations during the summer, but most aren't open much more than that, too. Parks don't accept reservations more than 2 months in advance, or less than 48hrs in advance. However, all but the most popular parks (those with showers) designate a few sites as permanently FCFS. They also post a reservation list so you can tell which ones have not been reserved (temporarily FCFS) and for how long. FCFS sites are usually taken by noon. Like Winston, we don't like planning that far ahead, so we often end up boondocking during the summer here in BC.
 

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Another thought: Parks that have gone fully by-reservation-only may no longer be equipped to handle on-site payments.
That’s what I’ve been told at a couple recreation.gov campgrounds, that even though sites were available there was no longer a way for them to accept money or log the transaction. At one I was able to get online and make a reservation on the spot. Couldn’t get a signal at another and they told me to go up the road and try but I kept going and ended up behind a Cracker Barrel, which was fine since I was just passing through.
 

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That’s what I’ve been told at a couple recreation.gov campgrounds, that even though sites were available there was no longer a way for them to accept money or log the transaction. At one I was able to get online and make a reservation on the spot. Couldn’t get a signal at another and they told me to go up the road and try but I kept going and ended up behind a Cracker Barrel, which was fine since I was just passing through.
So, same-day reservations are possible on recreation.gov? Good to know. That's not the case here in BC Parks, or in some Florida State Parks apparently. If parks want to go full by-reservation-only and do away with on-site payment capability, they first need to make their on-line system accept same-day reservations to accommodate FCFS. And if the park has no cell reception, make Wi-Fi available just for reservations.

We have the technology for all this. Florida just has the cart in front of the horse right now. That s*it happens. Case in point, US Social Security just launched a new online application system that accommodates us expats for the very first time. That's wonderful, but their existing "My Social Security" system used to check application status and manage your account still requires a US address to register. Baby steps. Yes, but babies also fall down a lot.
 

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@SteveSS - That was a couple years ago and the way things have changed during the Covid camping surge that might not be possible anymore. I tried to look it up on the site and could not find a strict policy spelled out anywhere but there were references saying it varies by location so not much help.

Agree that these kind of problems have fairly simple solutions, but it doesn’t seem resources are allocated to study them enough to actually fix them.
 

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If you reserve a spot using Florida's online reservation system the contractor (US eDirect) gets the $6.70 fee. If you do a walk in does the $6.70 fee get applied?
 
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